25 May Self-service for B2B e-commerce (not just for the supermarket)
For a person that’s perennially in a hurry (Netflix can’t watch itself, you know), I’ve gotten very used to using the self-checkout when I visit the grocery store. I’m usually stopping in for a few necessary items with the goal of getting in and out in under 15 minutes. Running through the self-checkout usually ensures that speed, and I appreciate having the option. And I’m not alone. Two out of three U.S. consumers want some sort of self-checkout option.
Now, how does that relate to your B2B organization? Your sales process is complex, and you’ve hired great salespeople to make sure all of your deals get done. You might think that there wouldn’t be any possible way that you could take advantage of the benefits of self-service (efficiency, lower costs, quicker turnaround) in a B2B environment. In most cases, you would be right, except that Oracle CPQ has a self-service e-commerce option that enables your customers to select their desired products right from your website, make the purchase, and complete the order. Oracle CPQ can bring the efficiency, lower costs, and quicker turnaround of self-checkout through online self-service to drive both sales and higher customer satisfaction.
E-commerce self-service won’t replace your salespeople for new business or for those that appreciate the personal touch, and that’s by design. Self-service is for the customers that seek it out, that want to quickly and easily build their product configuration through a guided selling process. Guided selling ensures that your customer selects the right products based on who they are and what they need. When a product is selected, a list of recommended items for that product is generated along with compatible accessories and services. Your customers will see both an item price and their contract price, which will include their personalized discounts. Your customer can also pull assets from a database, enabling them to view past orders and contracts. This information can be used for reordering, recommending product add-ons, and renewing service contracts. The data can be directly pulled from your asset or contract database or from your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. You choose which recommended or add-on products your customer sees. You can also prorate new service agreements based on your customer’s existing contracts. All of this is done without any involvement from your salesperson or customer service member, freeing them up to deal with more pressing issues or to work on new sales.
E-commerce self-service is for the customer that actively seeks out an online avenue to make their purchases, and thus requires less hand-holding when they’re looking through your product catalog. One of the biggest expenses saved when customers help themselves online is in your salesperson’s time, which you’re paying for either in their pay or as opportunity cost. They could be prospecting for new business, helping those potential customers already in the sales funnel, or closing deals. As noted above, guided selling online becomes your salesperson. Your customer now has the choice to work with a person or with the website, much like you have the choice to go through the normal checkout or the self-checkout at the grocery store. Some people will always prefer to work with the salesperson, and that’s great. But those that prefer to make their purchase on their own time and on their own terms are able to because of Oracle CPQ.
“On their own time and on their own terms” means that your customer is not beholden to making an appointment with your salesperson or working during business hours to get a rep on the phone. Some business hours may be found outside of the normal 9–5. Busy periods or changes in the market might mean that more inventory is sold, requiring more frequent orders than is normal. It’s times like these that e-commerce self-service tools are especially useful for your customer. Ordering on nights, weekends, salesperson vacations and busy periods, or any time that was formerly a bottleneck for the customer receiving help are now no longer issues. Instead of waiting, your customer can be serviced with 100% product and pricing accuracy through your online product catalog, which is searchable and configurable based on your customer’s exact needs. When your customer needs you, even during odd hours, you can be there to serve them.
E-commerce self-service might seem impossible for a B2B organization. But Oracle CPQ makes it as easy for the customer as it is to use self-checkout when you’re buying milk and eggs. With guided selling, customer data integration through CRM or ERP, and completely accurate pricing, you can have confidence that your client will have a great experience even when your salesperson isn’t directly involved.
To get started with Oracle CPQ, contact Simplus today for more information.